GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 4
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2010|
|Do you know how to pray? Most Christians confess they don’t; so today we want to look at how Jesus prayed, and what he told His disciples about prayer.|
Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There
The title of the message is this: “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There.” “Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” “God is good. God is great. And we thank Him for our food.” “Lord, if You let me out of this speeding ticket right now, I promise You,…” That’s how some of us pray, right? There are many different ways that we have been taught growing up to pray, but I would submit to you on the whole most believers do not know how to pray. I would say that most of you have come to me in the past and just said, “Pastor, I’ve been taught as a child but never really understood how to pray and really don’t have much of a prayer life.”
While the Christian life is a lot about serving the Lord, would you agree with me that there are times when we need to be still and pray, right? At Brainerd Baptist Church, if you’ve been with us for the last 14 months, you have seen the hand of God on our church. Our attendance, by the grace of God, has increased by 500 every Sunday, from 900 to 1,400 over the past 14 months. We’re averaging over 1,000 people every week in small group Bible study. It’s safe to say that God is blessing our church and we’re thankful for that.
And as you know, as we continue to go towards the future and asking God, “Where would You lead us in the future?” there are going to be barriers in the way. And we are about to embark on a capital campaign over the next three months, and I want you to listen to me: It’s critical for the next five or ten years of our church. I want you to join me as we pray together as to what God would do in our life. The name of the campaign is “Beyond Measure” and the premise is simple: “God, You have blessed us beyond measure. What can we do to be a blessing back to You?” Is it safe to say that many of us God has blessed beyond measure, amen? And I think it’s fitting for us as a church, as we are able to flesh out our mission statement, to deliver individuals from the bondage of sin, to disciple them into followers of Christ and then to deploy them to the nation and to Chattanooga as leaders for the glory of God. I think it’s fitting that we start with prayer, right? Isn’t prayer the source of all things? It should be.
And I want us to go back to Mark 1:35. If you have Bibles, I hope you do, turn with me to Mark 1:35. Now, I’m going to warn you out the gate. This is going to be a topical study on prayer, but I’m going to use Mark 1:35 as the springboard to do that this morning. And my prayer is simple. I want to motivate you to a life of prayer by examining the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at Mark 1:35. You should have it by memory, right? Let’s quote it together: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
But I want to show you a couple characteristics of the prayer life of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you’re taking notes, I hope you are, write down the first point. I want to talk about the character of Christ’s prayers. Now, unlike our prayer—you probably wondering, how did Jesus pray?—unlike our prayers, Jesus did not have to confess sin. Why? Because He didn’t sin, right? There was no contrition over sin; there was no brokenness or repentance; there was no remorse; because He was sinless. But like our prayers, Jesus had adoration for the Father. There were petitions raised to the Father. There were praises lifted up to the Lord by God.
I’m so thankful as I read the New Testament that Jesus prayed, aren’t you? I mean, think about that. Aren’t you glad that Jesus prayed? If anybody didn’t have to pray because He was in communion with the Father, it was Jesus. How much more do we as mere mortals need to pray if Jesus, the immortal God, prayed? I want to show you Jesus’ prayer life in the book of Luke chapter 11. And this is an interesting prayer scenario. Jesus is praying and the disciples come to Him. And there are two oddities in the text that you don’t see anywhere else. Look at it in verse 1: “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ And he said to them, ‘When you pray, say [these things]…’”
This is the only time in Scripture, church, where the disciples ask Jesus to teach them something. Did you know that? And it’s the only time in Scripture where the disciples demand Jesus to do something. It’s in the imperative. They say, “We demand you to teach us.” I find this interesting, because Jesus always taught the disciples. In Luke 5, you remember the story, Jesus pushed the boat a little from the land and He began to teach the disciples. They heard Him teach. You remember the story of Jesus teaching the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. He taught them often.
So the question is why are they asking Him to teach them something? I mean, of all the classes they could have signed up for at the seminary in Jerusalem, they decided to choose prayer. Is that odd to you? I mean, why not systematic theology or Hebrew exegesis? Or what about expository preaching or church planting? They didn’t choose that. They didn’t ask for counseling or they didn’t ask for outreach materials. They didn’t learn EE [Evangelism Explosion] or faith or any of those things. In fact, they said, “Jesus, of all the things, we want you to teach us how to pray.” And I believe the secret is this: they knew the secret to the source of all power, and it originated with the prayer life. And Jesus demonstrated that to them.
And then He says two things. He basically gives them this prayer, “Father, hallowed be Thy name.” In Matthew it says, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” Notice the first section, if you’re taking note. The first part is vertical; it’s God-centered. You see it? It’s our relationship with the Father. “Hallowed be Thy name. Your kingdom come.” It’s all about God. You know, if you read the Psalms as I’ve been reading in my devotional time, you’ll notice the Psalms always begin, get this, with reminding God and the psalmist who God is, right? They always recount the attributes of God, the qualities of God, and the character of God. They always start with that. And I think it’s important that we start with that when we pray.
But not only is it a vertical prayer. Jesus has a horizontal aspect. Look at it. Secondly, “Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us [that’s the key word] our sins. For we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” This is the man-focused part of the prayer. Notice the three key phrases: our daily bread, our sins, and our temptation. You know, someone asked me recently, “Pastor, should I pray for myself because I don’t do often.” And the answer is what? Yes. Jesus clearly shows us that we need to pray for our needs and our sustenance and our daily bread, for our walk with Him.
And then He makes that point even clearer when He uses the word—don’t miss this—Father. Matthew really gets to the heart of it and makes it personal. And he says, “Our Father.” Now, this is radical. Don’t gloss over that. It’s radical that Jesus would address the Sovereign God of the universe as Father. Now you’re saying, “Well, I thought they did that.” They did, but Jewish people in the first century and even before that knew God as the Supreme Eternal Creator who was credited with creating all things, but He was a distant, reverent Father. They never knew God as a personal Father. It was distant and reverent. R. Kent Hughes captures it best. Listen to what he says:
“God is only referred to as Father 14 times in the Old Testament. In the entire corpus of the Old Testament, all 39 books, only 14 times is God referred to as Father. The term was always used in reference to the nation and never used personally. Even Abraham, the great father of all the nations, never referred to God as my Father. It was always a reverential Father. The Jews were so focused on the sovereignty and transcendence of God that they were careful never even to repeat His covenant name and invented the name Jehovah as a combination of two separate names of God to use instead. God was always distant to them and well guarded.”
But don’t miss this. In all of Jesus’ prayers and all the time He talks about God, it’s God as a personal Father. In fact, He goes even beyond that and He doesn’t just say Father, He uses the word Abba. I mean, just say that word. Think about it. There’s a difference when you say—think about it—the word “Father” and “Abba.” Guess what the word “Abba” means in Hebrew. Daddy. I mean, can you fathom that? That Jesus referred to God as Daddy. I remember the first time Kandi and I were in Israel and we were walking through the old city of Jerusalem and we saw this little boy running through the city and he was yelling these words out, “Abba! Abba!” He was calling his father. And I’m just reminded, wow, that’s what Jesus would have referred to God as. Now He would have referred to His earthly father as Abba, Joseph. But Jesus referred to God as Abba. This was radical.
The German New Testament scholar, Joachim Jeremias, says, “In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus authorizes His disciples to repeat the word Abba after Him.” Not only does He say it, He says, “Guys, I want you to repeat it after Me. You can refer to God as ‘Daddy’.” “He gives them a share in His Sonship and empowers them, as His disciples, to speak with their heavenly Father in just as a familiar term as a son would call out to his own earthly father.”
What a privilege we have as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ that, because of Christ, we have access to God and we can come before the sovereign Creator of the universe and we can approach Him and say “Daddy.” Do you feel the weight of that? Daddy. You want to radically change your prayer life? Start saying, instead of “Father” begin with “Daddy, I love you.” That was the character of Christ’s prayers.
Let me tell you about the occasion of Christ’s prayer. Christ’s prayer was intimate with the Lord. But let me let show you the occasion of Christ’s prayers through the Bible. In the midst of publicity and widespread interest and strenuous pressure, Jesus prayed. In fact, He always prayed. I want to give you just a run through and take some notes here. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus said to pray for those who persecute you. Hey, it’s easy to pray for people when they’re doing well and do good to you, but do you pray for people who persecute you? Jesus said we should pray for those.
In addition to that, Jesus said you need to pray before big events. He exemplified that. Do you notice before He chose the twelve apostles, what did He do? He prayed in Luke 6:12. He prayed before every major event. He prayed after every major event. He prayed without being anxious in Matthew 26:36. He prayed that believers would be complete in John 17. He prayed for others in Luke 22. He even prayed for Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane. Think about this. Jesus said, “God, is there any other way that this cup can pass from Me? Nevertheless, not My will but Yours.” Three times He pleaded with the Lord. Talk about persistence.
I think the greatest story of prayer in all the Bible is in Luke 3:21. Luke, being the doctor, captures this when the other two writers miss it. “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying…”
You see it? Mark and Matthew miss that. They just say Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened, the dove descended. But Luke takes the time to let us know that as He was being baptized, He was praying; and then the heavens opened and then the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove and voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” When was the last time you prayed and heavens opened? It happened for Jesus. And what’s interesting is it happened while He was praying. One of the most significant events in the life of Jesus was the baptism or submission to the ways of John; and I’m validating that message, “The heaven’s opened as He was praying.”
I want to ask you, what are the occasions of your prayers? Do you only pray when things are bad? Do you only pray when things are difficult or do you have a regular pattern of prayer in your life? Jesus would have had a regular pattern of prayer in His life. I’m reminded of times going bad when I think of John Wesley. He was on a ship with Dr. Clarke, and Dr. Clarke writes in his autobiography of John Wesley being on this ship. And as they were heading from England to America, the headwind was so strong that the ship got off course. John Wesley heard the confusion on the deck and he arose from reading a book. And he said, “Men, let’s pray.” And they all got on their knees. After Dr. Clarke finished his prayer, John Wesley began to pray and lifted up this petition to the Lord. He said, “Almighty and everlasting God. You sway everything. And all things are for Your purpose and by Your will. You hold the winds in Your fist and sit upon the water floods and reign as king forever. Command these winds and these waves and that they obey You and take us speedily and safely to the haven where we would go.”
Didn’t say a word. He got up from his knees, went back to reading his book. The captain went to the top of the ship, looked out and all of sudden, the waves stopped; the wind stopped blowing; and the ship was on course. It got to the land, laid out the anchor. Mr. Wesley didn’t say a word. He finished reading his book and walked off the ship. Expecting God to answer his prayer. Do you pray like that? Do you pray in a way that you expect God to answer your prayers? John Wesley would have done it and I believe the Lord Jesus Christ would have done it. That was the occasion of His prayers. He prayed all the time.
But the question is, what is the time of His prayer? We know He prayed in all situations, but what was Jesus’ preferred time? Well, guess what the answer was. All the time, right? I mean, we find Jesus praying in the morning. We find Jesus praying at night. And we find Jesus praying in the midday. But most often He prayed in the morning. Look at Mark 1:35: “early in the morning.” Now why do you think Jesus prayed often in the morning? Because you get sidetracked during the day, right? You get swayed when there’s movement in traffic and people moving. And Jesus knew He had to get up early in the morning to get away from the daily movement of life as it began. Jesus prayed early. And in the text in Mark 1 it says He prayed probably at the last watch, from 3:00–6:00 in the morning. And as He was the disciples approached Him. That verb in that text shows us that Jesus had been praying early in the morning and was praying all the way up until when the men came to Him. Jesus knew what it was like to pray.
The psalmist tells us in Psalm 55:17, “Evening, morning and noon I utter my complaint and I moan, and God hears my voice.”
Psalm 88:13. Listen: “O Lord , I cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.”
Psalm 90:14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
Why should we pray in the morning more so than any other time? Why? Because it changes our day, right? I mean, when you start the day and you ask the Lord to put on the armor of God to prepare your heart and your mind and your soul and your tensions and your thoughts and your motives, boy, it can change your day. If you don’t have a set prayer time, why not? I want to challenge you today to begin to pray. What’s the best time of praying for me, Robby? I don’t know. You may say, “I can get alone with the Lord.” You may have to wake up early and some of you do that. You may have to go in your car. I remember a man I was discipling at Immanuel Baptist. He got in his car and he prayed during lunch. Maybe you need to pray at night when you get home. That was the occasion. That was the time, we’ve seen. We’ve seen the character.
Let me show you, finally, the scene of Christ’s prayers. The question is, where did He pray most often? Well, He prayed in a secluded, isolated place, as we see in Mark 1. But Jesus didn’t always pray alone. There were times when He prayed with the masses and in front of people. Remember on the cross in Luke 23 when Jesus was hanging on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they’re doing.” In Matthew 11 Jesus prayed before the crowd and He said, “God, I thank You that You’ve granted these infants understanding.” Remember that?
But He prayed sometimes with just a group of people. He would take often the three inner disciples, the inner circle and one time He takes them up to the Mount of Transfiguration. And He prays before those men. His face shone as white and Elijah and Moses descended and Peter said, “We’ve got to check into the Best Western and set up shop.” And Jesus said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about!” But He did that with an intimate, close group of friends.
He also prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane. You remember that story? He took Peter, James, and John. He said, “Follow Me. I’m going to go pray over here, but you guys pray here.” But I want to submit to you, church, most often He prayed by Himself. When Jesus picked the disciples, He prayed by Himself. In Mark 1:35 He prayed by Himself. When Jesus went up to the mountain after feeding the 5,000 and right before He walked on water, it says He prayed by Himself. And I want to ask you to think about this: when was the last time you prayed by yourself? When was the last time you got alone with the God of the universe in an isolated, desolate place and prayed? Jesus would have done it all the time.
J.C. Ryle says this: “What is the reason that some believers are so brighter and holier than others? I believe in 19 out of 20 cases it has to do with the habits of private praying.” He says this, “I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray very little. Those who are eminently holy and used for the Lord pray very much.”
What is to be said of your life? When Kandi and I lived in Chalmette, we had a prayer room and we had Christian paintings and we had Christian music and we had a rug on the floor and pillows. And as a newly married couple, some of those times Kandi and I shared together, we would in that office and we would get on our faces before the Lord and we’d spend hours praying to the Lord. What a sweet time. Do you have a prayer closet? Now you may be saying, “Robby, I don’t have a prayer closet.” Well, did you know that Jesus talked about a prayer closet? In Matthew 6, let me show you how Jesus refers to the prayer closet. And He says, “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Jewish people will commonly talk about going to the prayer closet and they don’t normally have a prayer closet like you and I think of. What they do is they take the prayer shawl—watch this—and they will take that shawl and they will cover themselves with the shawl and they will get spiritually into what’s called the prayer closet. It’s an isolated alone place with God when they can pray unto the Lord. You may not have a shawl to pray in, but you may have a closet. And I want to you ask you do you have a place of private prayer? Because if you don’t, it’s good to have one.
Now we’ve seen the occasion of prayer, we’ve seen the character of Christ’s prayers, we’ve seen the times of Christ’s prayers, we’ve seen the scene of Christ’s prayers. But, what’s the key to Christ’s prayers? And here it is, I believe. The key is persistence. Jesus persistently prayed to the Lord and it should be the same for us. Go to Luke 11. I want to show you how Jesus finishes when the disciples ask Him to them how to prayer. Notice how He finishes. Many people stop before going to this part. Luke 11:5.
“And he said to them, ‘Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and he will answer from within, “Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything”? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence [or his “chutzpah” in the Hebrew. It’s the word for faith. It’s the word for passion. It’s the word for persistence. Because of His persistence] he will rise and give him whatever he needs.’”
Basically, here’s the story. Your buddy’s in bed when you knock on the door. “Hey, man, I got some friends in town. We got a celebration. Do you have any French Bread (as we’d say in Louisiana)? Do you have any French Bread?” “Don’t you see I’m sleeping?! It’s late at night!” He said that man will not get out of bed but because of this man’s chutzpah [knocking on podium….] “Okay. We’ve got it.” Because of his persistence to the Lord.
And then Jesus finishes it this way, “I tell you. Ask and it will be given to you. Knock and the door will be opened. Seek and you will find.” All three of the verbs are in the active tense, and it means you’ve got to keep on keeping on, right? You’ve got to continue to ask. I wonder how many of us give up when God doesn’t answer right away, right?
I need you as a church to join with me over the next three months as we project for the next three years of Beyond Measure. These next three months are critical to the future of our church and it’s going to take a concerted effort of prayer. You and I are going to partner together to ask God simply to do exceedingly and above all that we can ask and imagine for the glory of Christ in the church and for all generations. That’s our prayer. And it’s going to take a concerted effort of prayer.
Now, this is tough for us. Why? Because we live in a world where it’s about doing, right? I mean, if you look at the Christian world—not even in just the world but in the Christian world—it’s all about doing, right? I mean, we have conferences on Sunday School. We have conferences on outreach and church planting and pastoral ministry and shepherding and Bible study. And those things are good. But when was the last time you saw a prayer conference where all you were going to do is pray? There’s great activity in the Christian life. There’s great movement in the Christian. But, sadly, great ideas but not a lot of prayer. You will not find a man or woman mightily used by the Lord throughout history that was not a man or woman of prayer. You won’t find it. And if you want to be a man or woman mightily used by the Lord today, you need to begin to develop a proper persistent prayer life. Listen to some of these men:
Charles Simeon was a great preacher. Devoted the hours of 4:00-8:00 in the morning every day to God.
John Wesley spent two hours daily in prayer. He began at 4:00-6:00 for private prayer. Then he got into public prayer, corporate prayer, from 6:00-8:00 every single morning.
John Fletcher stained the walls of his room with the breath of his prayers. He was so persistent in prayer all night that he said, “I would not rise from my seat without lifting my soul unto the Lord.”
Martin Luther said, “If I failed to spend two hours in prayer every morning, the devil gets the victory throughout the day. I have so much to do but I cannot help spending three hours daily in prayer.”
Now, don’t miss this. He said, “I’ve got so much to do, that I can’t help but spend three hours in prayer.” That’s just the opposite for us, huh? We’ve got so much to do we’ve got no time for prayer. Martin Luther said, “I’ve got so many things to do that I can’t help beginning the day with three hours of prayer.”
Bishop Ken was much about the business of God that God had captivated his soul in prayer that he decided he was going to wake up every morning when the clock struck 3:00 to pray.
Bishop Asbury said, “I propose to rise at 4 a.m. as often as I can to spend two hours in prayer and meditation to the Lord.”
Joseph Alleine said at the hours of 4:00 he would wake up to pray to the Lord all the way till 8:00. And whenever he heard other tradesmen in the city conducting business, he would cry out, “Oh, how this shames me! Does not my Master deserve more than this?” he would say.
Bishop Andrews spent the greater part of five hours every day in prayer.
The great missionary Dr. Adoniram Judson’s successful in India, he attributed his success to prayer. He said, “You need to arrange your affairs, if possible, so that you can leisurely devote two or three hours to prayer every day, and not merely to devotional exercises but to the very act of secret prayer and communion to God. Endeavor seven times a day to withdraw from business and company to lift thy soul to God in private retirement. Begin the day by rising at midnight and devoting hours of time to silence and darkness of the night to the sacred work.” He said, “Let the hours of 9 p.m., 12 p.m., 3 a.m., 6 a.m., and 9 a.m. every day be to prayer.”
Prayer is the weapon of choice for the believer that everyone can use. Did you know that? You see, you can say to me, “Pastor, I’m not a teacher.” You make the case for that. “I’m not a preacher. I’m not an evangelist. I’m not a Sunday School leader.” But no one can make a case to me for not being a prayer warrior, right? Everyone has the ability to pray. What could God do in and among our church if our people—get this—would pray together?